Patriot League 20th Anniversary Profiles: Tucker Neale

PATRIOTLEAGUEDOTORG
PATRIOTLEAGUEDOTORG

PATRIOTLEAGUEDOTORG

Sept. 2, 2010

Name: Tucker Neale
Institution: Colgate University
Sport: Basketball
Graduation Year: 1995
Undergraduate Degree:Educational Issues/Political Science
Did You Know?
Tucker Neale was the first Raider to score 600-plus points in two different seasons.

Tucker Neale was a three-year letter-winner that left a lasting impression on the basketball program at Colgate University. The two-time All-Patriot League Team selection holds a host of records at both Colgate University and in the Patriot League. He remains the Raiders' all-time leading scorer, racking up 2,075 career points over three seasons.

In his first season, he led all of the Patriot League in scoring, averaging 21.9 points per game. Neal finished fifth in the nation in scoring his junior year, averaging 26.6, points per game.

His 771 total points scored is the second highest in school history and most ever by a junior. Neale's outstanding play earned him the honor of being named Patriot League Player of the Year in 1994. He finished 17th in the nation in scoring his senior year, averaging 23.1 points per game and was named the Patriot League Tournament Most Valuable Player. Neale led the Raiders to their first-ever NCAA tournament appearance in 1995.

Neal owns several Patriot League basketball records. He holds the Patriot League record for most 3-point field goals made in a career (248) and most 3-point field goal attempts in a career (624). Neale also broke the mark held for most free-throw points made in a career with 469. He was selected to the Patriot League All-Decade Team (1991-2001).

After graduation, Neal was invited to the Boston Celtics camp in 1995, the year of the NBA lockout. Instead, he opted to go to Europe and play professional basketball in Germany. There, Neal averaged 30 points per game and was named player of the year. In 1996, he tried out again for the Cleveland Cavaliers, but was cut in the just before the start of the season. Neal is currently the executive director of Score More Athletic Club, a camp entering its 12th year of instructing young athletes on the skills needed for the game of basketball. Colgate University formally recognized Neale's accomplishments by inducting him into the Colgate Athletics Hall of Honor in 2004. Neale's # 20 jersey has since been retired and now on display in Colgate's Cotterell Court.

Q: What factors helped in your decision to attend Colgate University?
A: I had heard about Colgate's academic reputation and My AAU coach, Hal Ehretsman so, Jack, played for Colgate. Once I went on a visit and met Coach Bruen and Coach Aiello I knew that it was the environment I was looking for.

Q: Who were your sports idols growing up and why?
A: My idol growing up was Larry Bird. I always had the greatest admiration for his work ethic. I have always fashioned my own game around outworking my opponents, and Larry Bird epitomized hard work and dedication to the game

Q: What was your proudest on-the-court accomplishment?
A: My proudest on court accomplishment was making the NCAA tournament. When I went to visit Colgate they were in the midst of a 5-22 season. To think that we won 17, 18, 17 games within a 3 year span is really an incredible turn around and the culmination of some great individual efforts that formed a Patriot Powerhouse during the mid 1990's. And to play my last game against Kansas in the NCAA Tournament was a dream come true and made all the sacrifice and hard work worth it.

Q: What was your proudest academic accomplishment?
A: My proudest academic accomplishment was being the first of my grandmothers 14 grandchildren to graduate from college. I am the fourth youngest. My sister and 2 cousins after me also graduated. To be the start of such a positive trend, when ten others before me never graduated, is my greatest academic accomplishment.

Q: How were you able to balance the demands in the classroom with the demands of being an athlete?
A: Discipline and time management have always been very important traits of my success. Discipline allows us to be self starters and stay on the right path while others may be straying and time management has always allowed me to prioritize what is important.

Q: How did your experience as a student-athlete prepare you for life after college?
A: Colgate taught me how to think. I was able to challenge my life long perceptions and understand diverse point of views. Colgate has a very diverse population from many different locations, perspective experiences and cultures that I was not earlier exposed. The professors taught me how to expect more of my self in the classroom and my coaches allowed me to be myself while always getting the most out of me and all of my team mates.

Q: Describe the experience of playing the NCAA Tournament. A: Maslow has a hierarchy of needs. The pinnacle of the hierarchy is self actualization. I found myself finding a very unique peace after we played the game against Kansas. I have always been a very driven person that expects perfection from myself and those that come into contact with me. My drive to win each and every game made me a tough love team mate at times. After our participation in the NCAA Tournament and the fine performance we put forth representing the entire Patriot League allowed me to find a peace within myself that I had never experienced before.

Q: Do you think your total career points record at Colgate will ever be broken?
A: I am sure some will break my career record. Every record is made to be broken. I doubt any time soon that anyone will score as many points in only 3 seasons, but I can see someone breaking my 2,000 point plateau with 4 years to accomplish the feat. I am thankful to have held the record this long.

Q: If you could go back to college and compete one more time, where would it be and against whom?
A: I would love to go back and compete against Bucknell in the old gym. That gym was the greatest college environment that I have ever been a part of. We played in the NCAA Tourney, at Madison Square Garden, at the Carriers Dome, but nothing compared to the old gym at Bucknell. When we lost in the Patriot League Semi Final Game my sophomore year, that was the loudest I have ever heard a gymnasium. I remember walking off the court holding my ears as my ear drums throbbed from the noise. That was a GREAT GAME!!

Q: Tell us a little about your SMAC. A: I started the Score More Athletic Club 14 years ago. We now have placed over 165 boys in girls in college playing the sport of basketball. I have been able to combine my passion with my profession. I am a very blessed individual to have been able to never work a day and be involved in the greatest game on earth. SMAC now has over 800 participants.

We have also stamped our mark nationally as a premier group of event organizers. We organize and run events for over 72,000 players from across the US and Canada. Our events can be seen in 8 states and Canada.

Q: How did it feel to be inducted into Colgate University's Hall of Honor?
A: Knowing that Colgate has enough respect for my impact on the University to include me in the Hall of Honor is humbling to say the least. So many wonderful student-athletes can call Colgate alma mater, that the true impact of being part of such an elite group can never be put into words.

Q: What was it like having your # 20 jersey retired?
A: When I first went to Colgate I was #15. A very good friend of mine, Kort Wickenheiser, had to transfer out of Colgate after his freshman year due to some physical set backs. I sat out my first year when I was #15. Kort was #20. I asked Kort if I could take his number. His reply was one of humility and he said he would be honored. I then promised him to have our number placed in the rafters.

To know that I was able to fulfill my promise with the help of my team mates and coaches is an amazing feeling. I made the promise during an emotional moment and never thought it would actually come to fruition. It is a dream come true and I was excited to hear that Adonal was chosen to join us. He is a most deserving player and person.

Q: If you had to offer current student-athletes some words of wisdom what would they be?
A: Our world and the job market is ever changing, make sure you have as much practical experience as possible. Realize that each of us has to be a 5 tool player or a 5 tool employee. Be as diversified as possible, knowing how quickly the world changes with so much information available at our finger tips.

Q: Do you still follow Colgate athletics?
A: I still follow Colgate basketball. Not as close as I wish. When basketball is in season, I am also in season, that is my busy time. I have missed the alumni game. I am hopeful to get back soon and see many of my team mates and fellow alum's.

Q: Looking back, what does it mean to you to have been a Patriot League student- athlete?
A: It means having done things the right way with the right influences. There is a reason a book was written about our wonderful league, The Last Amateurs. The Patriot League does it the right way and creates a balance that allows the student-athlete to flourish.